Suicide Risk Assessment in Nursing Practice, comment

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Nurses should not find themselves in uncomfortable positions when they reach the psychiatric section of an intake assessment. We must remember that medicine is holistic. The mental health of our patients is just as important as their physical health. If the patient is on psychiatric medications, we need to know that. We must know what the medications are, their doses, and their actions. If a person states that they have “chronic back pain”, this should not be any worse for an RN to hear than “I am chronically depressed”. Since depression can lead to suicidal thoughts, it should only be natural that the RN asks the patient if they have ever thought about suicide. It is of utmost importance to treat the entire person.

Original Post:
May 26, 2009
Title: Suicide Risk Assessment in Nursing Practice
I wanted to briefly address the need to emphasize suicide risk assessment in the acute care setting. I see in this inpatient setting a hesitancy by many nurses to assess patients for suicide risk. As acute care nurses, we often overlook the psychiatric components to our patients health and as a result, do not give the care often needed by our patient population. As psychiatric illness can play the role of contributing factor in some physical illness, I do see it as necessary to not forget this aspect of our nursing assessment, especially on patient admission. We are often afraid of offending or creating an awkward introduction to our patient/ nurse relationship, however I do see this as an obstacle that we, as nurses need to overcome to provide adequate care to our patients. The more open we are in addressing psychiatric needs, such as suicide risk or other chronic psych illnesses, the better trust we will build with our patients.

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